By Barbara B. Covell
For The TODAY
His musical talent as a pianist drew community attention and critical acclaim when barely a teenager in the village of Yachats. Before long, the celebrated musical prodigy drew regional attention for his multiple abilities to perform, compose original music, score music and lyrics as a playwright and direct vocalists in solo and chorale settings. Now an adult with a lengthy resume of creative achievements, he is known locally as Milo.
Milo Graamans has a rich piano performance background and enjoys playing diverse repertoires, from classical to ragtime, featuring Chopin, Liszt, Joplin, Rachmaninoff, Cobb and many other recognized composers, as well as his own original music, which he describes as a variant of pop. He is the accompanist for the Central Coast Chorale and the organist/music director at the Yachats Presbyterian Church. He regularly plays piano or keyboards with the Red Octopus Theatre Group, the Porthole Players and the Oregon Coast Council for the Arts Shakespeare Camp at the Newport Performing Arts Center. He has been a feature pianist with the Yachats Music Festival, sponsored by Four Seasons Arts of Berkeley, California, and most recently performed a dual piano arrangement with Carlyn Jefferson at the Lincoln County Oregon Music Teachers Association annual fund-raiser.
Now Milo is stepping up his performance schedule with a five-city line up from April to September 2016, showcasing guest artists and a host of classical, popular and original compositions.
“Each concert will be different,” he said. “I want to offer something unique in every venue, something tailored especially for that community.”
The first concert, at 2 pm on Sunday, May 15, at the Yachats Community Presbyterian church, will include classical works by Liszt, Rimsky-Korsakov, Schubert and others, along with popular selections by Joplin and Gershwin and several original compositions. Guest performers Ian Smith, Evan Pardi, Sarah Richards, Gidget Manucci and the Yachats Community Presbyterian Chancel Choir will add guitar, upright bass and vocals to an otherwise piano-centered program.
The Sunday, July 17, concert at 2 pm at the Newport Performing Arts Center will feature guest pianist Carlyn Jefferson. Audience members will be treated to a dual piano repertoire with Milo and Jefferson. Proceeds will be donated to the OCCA Shakespeare Camp scholarships.
The Saturday, Aug. 27, concert in Florence and the Sunday, Sept. 11, concert in Siletz are being held in private homes at 7 pm and 2 pm respectively, with the owners generously providing more intimate settings for Milo and his guest musicians. Seat reservations in Florence can be made at www.mainlypiano.com; and people can reserve seats in Siletz by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Milo will return to a larger venue for his Friday, Sept. 30, concert in Lincoln City, taking to the stage at the Lincoln City Cultural Center at 7 pm.
Admission to each concert is by donation.
“I like having it this way,” Milo said, “because it means I do not have to turn anyone away.”
Inspiration has played a major role in Milo’s artistic development. He credits his uncle, guitarist Ian Smith, for developing his interest in music at a young age. Milo began piano lessons at the age of four, under the tutelage of Jessica Treon, with whom he studied until heading off to college at the University of Oregon. He has studied composition with Mary Lee Scoville, PhD, and works with her still in other musical capacities. Milo remembers being immediately immersed in music, picking repertoire that he wanted to learn, such as Chopin and Joplin.
“I was always getting ahead of myself, picking music I wasn’t capable of playing yet,” he said. “I would delve into pieces before my hands were large enough to play all the chords. What I really appreciated about working with Jessie Treon was that she let me go in whatever direction I was most interested in.”
He began to work on his own piano arrangements at the age of 12, then gradually began song-writing, eventually writing his own musical, “She Loves Me Not,” which was produced in 2014 at the Newport Performing Arts Center and the Yachats Commons.
“My three primary inspirations during that phase were Andrew Lloyd Webber, Girlyman and Starkid,” he said.
In addition to his summer concert series, Milo will be performing Sunday, July 10, at the 36th annual Yachats Music Festival. Sponsored by Four Seasons Arts, this internationally acclaimed gathering of world-class performers features classical, spiritual and popular music in an intimate setting.
For more information about Milo’s 2016 Concert Series and music, go to www.milograamans.com
• Barbara B. Covell is a contributing journalist with 10 years’ experience in Oregon newspapers and regional magazines. Feel free to contact her at email@example.com.